Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SOWETAN
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SOWETAN

Tuesday’s vote by secret ballot in the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is the latest in a string of efforts to oust him from the position.

The vote takes place in Parliament from 2pm on Tuesday.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane brought the motion of no confidence in the president in March. However‚ the motion was delayed after the UDM asked the Constitutional Court to order that the vote be conducted by secret ballot. In June‚ the Court ruled that there was scope within the parliamentary rules for a secret ballot‚ and ordered the speaker, Baleka Mbete to make the decision.

Since Zuma took office‚ several draft resolutions about motions of no confidence in his presidency have been brought before the National Assembly‚ parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told Africa Check.

The first was brought by the Congress of the People (COPE), but Maimane has been the most committed to the effort.

On March 18 2010‚ Africa Check noted that COPE’s Mvume Dandala proposed a motion of no confidence in the president for his "failure to live up to the expectations of a broad spectrum of South Africans". This backfired spectacularly.

The ANC’s Ngoako Ramatlhodi moved to amend the motion to state that "the house has full confidence in the president of the Republic of SA and appreciates his leadership of the government and nation".

Of the members present for the vote‚ 235 voted to amend the motion‚ 88 voted against amending the motion and five abstained.

As a result‚ the amendment was passed. On the revised motion — that "the house has full confidence in the president" — 242 MPs voted in favour‚ 83 voted against and six abstained.

In November 2012‚ the DA brought a motion of no confidence but this was not voted on.

On March 3 2015‚ another motion of no confidence in Zuma was proposed by Agang SA MP‚ Molapi Tlouamma. This was withdrawn‚ after the MP asked Mbete to recuse herself from presiding over the debate, which she refused.

The prize for perseverance, though, goes to Maimane, who, on March 17 2015‚ March 1 2016‚ April 5 2016 and November 10 2016 — brought motions of no confidence in Zuma. In the various motions‚ Maimane cited his concern that "independent institutions of the state have been politicised and weakened"‚ that "important institutions of state have been captured by private interest", and that "corruption has spiralled out of control" among his reasons for them.

He also charged that "state resources‚ notably state security‚ law enforcement and prosecuting authorities have been mobilised to shield those interests from public scrutiny and investigation".

He also said that Zuma’s "irrational‚ irresponsible and reckless leadership had done immeasurable damage to the economy; eroded investor confidence; dramatically weakened the rand; and placed fiscal and economic stability at risk".

The November 2016 motion failed after a debate lasting nearly two hours. EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu then called for a secret ballot to be held to avoid any potential victimisation of ANC members who did not vote along party lines.

Africa Check and constitutional expert Pierre de Vos explained there are two ways that a South African president can be removed from office. "Section 102 of the South African Constitution allows for MPs to remove the president from office if they have lost confidence in him. A majority is needed for the motion to pass. In the event that it passes‚ the president‚ his ministers and their deputies must resign."

Section 89 of the Constitution also allows for the removal of the president. "This is sometimes referred to as ‘impeachment’‚ although this term is not used in the South African Constitution‚" said Africa Check.

Under this section‚ a president can be removed if there is a serious violation of the Constitution or the law‚ in a case of serious misconduct‚ or inability to perform the functions of the office. If a president is removed in this way‚ he may not receive the usual benefits of the presidency and cannot serve in any public office afterwards.

There has been one attempt to remove Zuma in this way. On April 5 2016, Maimane stated: "Zuma’s failure to comply with the remedial action taken by the public protector as set out in her report ‘Secure in Comfort’ was unlawful and inconsistent with the Constitution."

The motion was put to the vote but did not pass.

Meanwhile‚ in June 2017‚ the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) handed a dossier of documents, including a 175-page case docket and six annexures to Parliament that it said would help MPs with evidence in the vote of no confidence against Zuma.

The documents refer to Zuma allegedly misleading Parliament‚ his undue benefit from the security upgrades at his private homestead in Nkandla, and how his close friendship with the Gupta family allegedly helped them land government deals.

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